James Bond Builds Up Muscle Tone by Putting on His Clothes
Roger Moore as James Bond
Director: John Glen
Costume designer: Elizabeth Waller
Wardrobe master: Tiny Nicholls
Tailoring: Douglas Hayward
Shirts: Frank Foster
After the extravagance of the 1970s, James Bond was refreshed in a ‘down-to-earth’ and ‘back-to-basics’ approach for the 1980s. The absurd original stories were put on hold in favour of a return to Ian Fleming’s short story collection For Your Eyes Only. The tone was once again that of a Cold War thriller, and James Bond’s style had to revert to tradition to follow.
Costume designer Elizabeth Waller returned Bond’s wardrobe to a much more classic one in every way and paired back all of the more flamboyant and fashionable styles that Moore had become known for. For the first time Bond’s wardrobe was almost devoid of unusual or fashion-forward details. Fashion overall was in a transitional period, so while the lapel width or trouser leg shape don’t match what people wear today, there’s also little to suggest these clothes were made in 1980. It helps that classic styles were in fashion after people had grown tired of 1970s excess.
Roger Moore found a new English tailor to make his clothes: the legendary Doug Hayward, who was already popular with British stars like Michael Caine, Peter Sellers and Terence Stamp over the prior 15 years. Hayward previously worked with tailor Dimi Major, who tailored George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and his style was similar.
Hayward believed in a simple approach to tailoring that looks natural on the wearer without fussy details. He combined the softness and lightness of Italian tailoring with English flair and tradition. It’s a style that is aligned with Ian Fleming’s vision for Bond, so it’s a perfect fit for this film.
Moore wears his first single-breasted dinner jacket as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only. Hayward put Bond in the black notched-lapel dinner jacket from Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. Notched lapels on dinner jackets are often disparaged by certain traditionalists as being too business-suit-like and not appropriate, but the style goes back to the early days of the dinner jacket. By the time of For Your Eyes Only the notched-lapel dinner jacket had existed for almost a century. Notched laples draw less attention than peaked lapels and shawl collars, so they are a suitable choice for a Bond who wants to remain low-key.
As a matter of taste, I prefer peaked lapels and shawl collars on dinner jackets, but in researching menswear history I can’t say that Bond is wrong for wearing notched lapels. The lapels have a healthy width without being too wide, and they are shaped with belly. Because the shape of the lapel is so carefully crafted, it looks appropriately elegant for a dinner jacket.
This dinner jacket is subtle and classic in other ways. It follows tradition with a single front button. It’s made of a traditional black wool barathea. Horn buttons add a subtle touch compared to the usual silk-covered buttons. There are elegant double vents at the back, reviving the detail that Bond’s English tailors almost always used in the films before Bond went to an Italian tailor.
The trousers have a flat front, straight legs and a wide silk waistband that extends to the side and fastens with two buttons. It is reminiscent of a cummerbund, and a style Hayward started in the 1960s. It’s an elegant and clever addition to the dinner suit.
The Frank Foster dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs and a pleated front, all traditional details. The cloth is a white-on-white stripe, similar to what Sean Connery wore in a few Bond films but more subtle. It brings a level of interest to this outfit, which is otherwise fairly plain.
The bow tie is a classic butterfly shape, and it’s a thick bow tie judging by the size of the knot in the middle. It follows the rest of the outfit by not being unusual, but by doing something typical exceptionally well.
Lounge Suits and Blazer
The Doug Hayward suits in For Your Eyes Only revive the traditional styles that Sean Connery and George Lazenby wore. In London, Bond wears three flannel suits in classic shades of grey and navy. He starts off with a dark grey flannel three-piece suit reminiscent of Connery’s frequent dark grey flannel suits to visit his deceased wife’s grave. Perhaps in a callback to Lazenby’s London style, Moore’s three-piece suit also has three buttons. That may just be because Major and Hayward came from a shared tradition and favoured three buttons on three-piece city suits.
The suit follows English city-suit customs with straight, flapped pockets, no ticket pocket and double vents. The belted trousers have a plain front, no side pockets, two cash pockets below the waistband and a somewhat wide, straight leg. While the width of a leg looks slightly dated today, it looks elegant on Roger Moore, particularly as it lacks the flared shape of Moore’s previous Bond trousers. All of Moore’s suits in For Your Eyes Only have these same details.
The three-piece suits in the film lose points for having a belt under the waistcoat, but the belts are trim and don’t disrupt the waistcoats all that much. The waistcoats have six buttons and two welt pockets, so they’re fairly classic. I do find that the waistcoats are slightly too long and thus create a little too much upper body bulk.
Moore wears the suit with a dark blue striped shirt that has a contrasting white semi-spread collar and white deep two-button mitred cuffs. The shirt has a very conservative look that may be too much of a banker look for the character, but it still looks elegant and appropriate for London. The semi-spread collar has been toned down from Moore’s 1970s styles and its proportions are only a little larger than average. The collar shape gives Bond a proper English look while its size gives him presence without looking dated or fashion forward. The mitred cuffs are elegant without being unusual, except in their superb execution. The same collar and cuff styles continues throughout the film.
The dark grey silk shantung tie is subtle, and its texture recalls some of Moore’s earlier ties. It’s a superbly Bondian choice for how it matches the suit and does not compete with the shirt. Moore’s black loafers are now plainer without any tassels or horsebit detailing, recalling Fleming’s Bond style and breaking away from the old-fashioned city look.
The next suit is another three-piece in navy worsted flannel chalk stripe, another classic city choice that recalls Connery’s and Lazenby’s chalk stripe suits. This one has two buttons instead of three, so it’s more reminiscent of the Connery look. A sky blue poplin shirt also continues the Connery look. The navy tie is also a Bondian choice, while its elegant white and grey stripes add a bit more of a classic English style.
In a return to tradition not seen since the 1960s, Bond once again throws a trilby onto the coat rack when entering the office, though he does not wear the hat. It would have looked anachronistic had he worn it, so this was done with a good balance of old and new.
A mid-grey flannel suit for Bond’s next city meeting is another classic Bond choice, again recalling some of the suits Connery wears. A grey grenadine tie brilliantly revives another Connery-Bond classic, albeit in a new colour. Connery usually wore darker ties, but the low-contrast look here is more flattering on Moore’s complexion. A cream—bordering on pale yellow—poplin shirt is another classic Bond choice, which is also flattering on Moore. This is one of Bond’s lowest-contrast suited looks of the series, but I find that it is very elegant and attractive on Moore.
Moore’s final suit of the film features only in a brief scene. It’s a fawn-coloured wool gabardine for the Mediterranean, where would fit in perfectly if there were others wearing suits. The colour is rich and looks spectacular on Moore. The low-contrast mix of a mid blue shirt and a striped slate blue tie does as well. Bond stands out a bit much in his suit in this scene, but perhaps he made the choice to wear a suit because he was going to a church and wanted to dress respectfully. This suit’s colour isn’t all that different from his light brown silk suit in The Spy Who Loved Me, but this colour looks more elegant, as does the way he wears it.
Moore also revives his quintessential double-breasted blue blazer and pairs it with beige wool trousers and an open-neck sky blue shirt. The combination is a classic one and looks elegant and relaxed on Moore. The blazer is a classic six-button model with two to button and peaked lapels. The button placement looks wrong, however, because it is too low and the buttons are crammed together with not enough vertical spacing. If the bottom row of buttons were done away with and the top buttons were moved up an inch, the blazer would look considerable more balanced, but it would lack the classic button arrangement. Ideally, the centre row of buttons should move up about two inches and the other rows should be about 3 1/2 to 4 inches above and below.
Apart from the pre-title sequence, Bond’s tailored clothes are not worn for the action set pieces. Instead, he wears casual clothing for the action. This may have done so there’s less cost involved in tailoring extra suits for stuntmen and the possibilities of damage. Hayward still made Moore’s bespoke casual trousers and Frank Foster still made Moore’s bespoke casual shirts for many of the other action-packed moments. I think that these clothes are some of Bond’s most elegant casual styles of the series.
There are a tremendous number of casual looks in this film, featuring the most since Thunderball. Like in Thunderball, the casual looks are more significant in the film’s wardrobe than the tailoring is, even though the tailoring is brilliantly done in both films.
A sage green suede blouson made by Ian Mankin over an ecru jersey short-sleeve shirt and fawn linen trousers is the first of these casual looks and sets the tone for the film’s casual style. There so many nice jackets in the film that Roger Moore’s James Bond could give Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt a run for his money. The green blouson provides some unsuccessful camouflage in the woods, while the ecru shirt and fawn trousers are attractive complements. This is a rare occasion when Bond wears green, but it looks wonderful on Roger Moore.
His next casual outfit features another blouson, this time in shearling. He wears it tonally with a tan polo neck and fawn wool cavalry twill trousers. This is a beautiful and new, but successful, look that works for Bond. The shades of fawn and tan look perfect together and superb on Moore. It’s a shame this outfit sees little screen time.
He quickly dons his Bogner ski suit for the next scene. A mid-blue ski parka recalls George Lazenby’s blue ski suit but in a more modern and accessible way with numerous layers. He wears it with navy ski trousers, a white polo neck, a navy V-neck jumper with white stripe across the chest, and a navy-and-white striped knit cap. Blue makes the outfit looks Bondian. The knitwear looks a bit 1980s, but in a classic way. The practicality of this look helps it still be wearable today, but there’s also an elegance to this ski look that most modern ones lack.
After Bond is captured by Columbo, Columbo asks Bond to join his mission and provides him with a stylish outfit that looks as much 1960s as it does 1980s. The outfit consists of a bomber jacket, a polo neck and trousers, all in similar shades of dark-blue that combine perfectly. I find blue makes this look more stylish and more flattering than the more obvious choice of black. A team of men in blue also makes them look like the good guys, while black may be more likely to make them look like bad guys. The monochrome look is effective in this context, but one of the items could be switched to a different colour for a more wearable casual look in real life. Moore has rarely looked this cool as Bond.
Bond returns to warm-weather looks with a pale yellow short-sleeve jersey shirt and stone-coloured cotton trousers with an off-white surcingle belt. While this outfit looks good on Moore, it also has a bit of an old-man look. I’d still wear it myself, but probably with a different colour shirt.
Bond finds himself in a blue V-neck t-shirt and the same cotton trousers as before when subjected to keelhauling. The t-shirt is not a typical Bond look, but in this context Bond was likely dressed by the bad guys for his death. Moore’s Bond would only wear a t-shirt as an undershirt. If this scene featured Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, Bond probably would have been shirtless. A t-shirt is the closest thing to shirtless that looks flattering on a 53-year-old Roger Moore. And it looks surprising good on him. For the scene the t-shirt makes much more sense than a Frank Foster shirt does. It helps us take the scene seriously to see Roger Moore’s Bond for once not dressing with style in mind.
For most of the film’s final act, Bond is dressed in an outfit that combines stylish casualwear with practical outdoor garments. At the base of the ensemble is a casual dark-blue jersey shirt, and over it he layers a light grey fisherman’s jumper and a dark blue quilted gilet. On the bottom he wears black corduroy trousers and blue climbing shoes.
While the shirt is bespoke, and the trousers probably are too, the outfit looks completely practical. Perhaps too practical, as it’s one of the rare occasions where Moore’s Bond prioritises a useful outfit over a stylish one. A leather jacket like Columbo wears in this scene would have looked cooler, but the knitted shirt and jumper along with a gilet provides Bond with warmth, freedom of movement and handy pockets. Without the gilet, this outfit is easy to wear as a casual look.
This mission also required Bond to don two diving suits, one in blue and one in yellow. The blue one looks more suitable for the character, but the yellow one ensures we can see Bond easily underwear amidst the darkness.
Moore once again proves that he is the Bathrobe Bond by wearing three in this film. None of the bathrobes are Bond’s own. He borrow’s Columbo’s red-and-black striped bathrobe when he goes home with Lisl. Later he wears a blue bathrobe after the keelhauling and a white bathrobe at end of the film, both aboard the Triana yacht. These two either belonged to the late Sir Timothy Havelock or were there aboard the boat for guests to use. All of them appear to be quality bathrobes, but nothing overly luxurious.
Chaim Topol’s Columbo and Julian Glover’s Kristatos are two very well-dressed villains, particularly in their dinner jackets and in Columbo’s blazer. Like Bond. they also wear Frank Foster shirts. Because of how well these characters are tailored, they are shown to be on Bond’s level and are not to be challenged lightly. Both of their tailored styles consist of items Bond could wear himself. The characters’ personalities are allowed to speak without the entertaining comic-book costumes of many previous Bond characters.
Well Done, James
The classic styles of both the suits and the casual items hold up today. The formal and casual clothes look equally refined and distinguished without being too showy or fancy. The fits are excellent and timeless. Every outfit is well coordinated and flattering on Roger Moore without looking too studied. The film’s wardrobe looks realistic while still being aspirationally Bondian.
Elizabeth Waller curated a wonderful colour palette of blue, grey, fawn and yellow for this film. While Bond occasionally breaks away from these colours, by mostly sticking with them it gives the character a desirable consistency and identity. None of these colours are new to Bond, but while the first three colours originally came from Connery’s Bond films, the yellow carries over from Moore’s previous two Bond films. The palette is classic Bond but still curated with Roger Moore in mind.
Not Perfected Yet
The low button stance on the jackets, both the suit jackets and the double-breasted blazer, are a bit dated. A low button stance was a 1980s and 1990s style, but Hayward made it his own. While it was typical at the time to lower the gorge, Hayward kept the gorge high so his jackets wouldn’t look so dated.
Moore’s body demanded a lower button stance than usual, but Hayward went just a little too low by about half an inch and the jackets ended up looking unbalanced. However, it is far better than the button stance being too high and this is ultimately a minor complaint.
Elizabeth Waller is a key player in bringing Bond back to his roots in For Your Eyes Only by dressing him with an eye for tradition and realism. Some of the clothes look a bit old-fashioned today and don’t have the cool factor that Connery’s outfits usually had. They look like they’re from a slightly older time, but never in a distracting way. The all-blue sneaky casual look, however, is one of Roger Moore’s coolest as Bond, particularly as it looks straight out of the 1960s.
None of the clothes look terribly unfashionable today—they still look elegant and tasteful. As classic fits return to fashion, and especially as younger men are embracing fuller fits, the clothes in For Your Eyes Only will continue to stand the test of time.
James Bond looks as we expect him to look throughout the film. He is always suitably dressed, and at no moment in the film do his clothes distract from the character or the rest of the film. The wardrobe helps Roger Moore look more than ever before like we expect James Bond to look and contributes to one of his best performances in the role. The wardrobe isn’t perfect, but it comes so very close.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.